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BY-NC-ND 4.0 license Open Access Published by De Gruyter 2021

Disentangling Roger Bacon’s Criticism of Medieval Translations

From the book Early Thirteenth-Century English Franciscan Thought

  • Nicola Polloni


In his harsh polemics against the Latin curriculum studiorum, Roger Bacon often attacked Greek-and Arabic-to-Latin translations and their translators. Whereas many studies have focused on the pars destruens of Bacon’s criticism, this contribution examines the pars construens implied by Bacon’s discussion. By analysing the main arguments he levelled against some translators of his time, the paper shows how, behind a veil of criticism and rhetoric, Bacon envisioned a set of requirements that should be met by any translator. They constitute the profile of the ‘good’ translator, which is similar to another profile sketched by Bacon: that of the ‘good’ practitioner of philosophy and science, who needs to have a fluent knowledge of the ancient languages in order to properly understand the Latin translations as well. Accordingly, Bacon’s criticism of medieval translations can be considered as an epiphenomenon of his wider syncretic approach to wisdom - its attainment being like resolving a puzzle whose pieces are scattered among different languages, cultures, and religions.

© 2021 Walter de Gruyter GmbH, Berlin/Boston
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